A man with Down's syndrome dressed in a suit and tie testifies before US Congress. Caption reads: Is there really no place for us in the world?


Eugenics is the scientifically inaccurate theory that humans can be improved through selective breeding of populations.

Eugenics is an inaccurate theory linked to historical and present-day forms of discrimination, racism, ableism and colonialism.

Eugenicists believed in a prejudiced and incorrect understanding of Mendelian genetics that claimed abstract human qualities (e.g., intelligence and social behaviors) were inherited in a simple fashion. Similarly, they believed complex diseases and disorders were solely the outcome of genetic inheritance.

The implementation of eugenics practices has caused widespread harm, particularly to populations that are being marginalized.

Eugenic theories and scientific racism drew support from contemporary xenophobia, antisemitism, sexism, colonialism and imperialism, as well as justifications of slavery, particularly in the United States.

Eugenics and Scientific Racism, National Human Genome Research Institute

Is there really no place for us in the world?

Frank Stephens
A man with Down's syndrome dressed in a suit and tie testifies before US Congress. Caption reads: Is there really no place for us in the world?
Is there really no place for us in the world?

Eugenics is a cold, calculated way of thinking about human life, reducing human beings to nothing but parts of the whole, either dragging down their race or pulling it up.

Superior: The Return of Race Science

…our system punishes you for not practicing eugenics by not providing a social safety net.

Neoliberal Eugenics 1: Selective Abortion – Leslie’s Blog

Content note: ableism, eugenics, suicide, racism, anti-Blackness, slavery, sexism, forced sterilization, scientific racism, anti-Semitism, Holocaust


Because before we talk about death with dignity for disabled and ill people, we need to achieve life with dignity for disabled and ill people.
People don’t make the choice to die in a vacuum. Many of the worst parts of living with a disability — Isolation, being homebound, being a burden that family has to struggle to care for — those are all failures in disability service delivery, not things inherent to the condition.

Sara Luterman, The NOS-Letter

But this concept of “dignity” still comes with an ableist miasma.

Remember that our judgments about the quality of life have nothing to do with the value of life.

By claiming there is no “quality of life” for a person who must have carers, who can’t work, or who may otherwise not be accepted by society, they also claim there is no value to their lives. However, if you talk to disabled and neurodivergent people, they don’t seem to be of that opinion. Not one bit.

Whatever our societal notions of quality are, they have nothing to do with how much a person values their own life or even how valuable their lives are to society.

Neoliberal Eugenics 2: Euthanasia – YouTube, Transcript: Neoliberal Eugenics 2: Euthanasia – Leslie’s Blog

A Jacobin article on assisted suicide—that doesn’t mention ableism by name once—has socialists sounding like capitalists, joined in ignorance of disability, neurodiversity, and the social model. A thread among disabled and neurodivergent people discussing the article brought to our attention these two videos on neoliberal eugenics that socialists and capitalists and all those in between need to view.

So much disability activism has to focus on proving our lives are valuable.

If I may jump back to babies, I think many parents, when they elect to abort disabled babies, do so because they had specific ableist ideas about who their child would be before it was ever born. They can’t live with the perceived loss of these imaginary opportunities.

Too many parents aren’t ready to change their conception of what a life “ought” to be and have a restrictive notion of parenting that doesn’t respect their child’s autonomy.

Neoliberal Eugenics 2: Euthanasia – YouTube

Truth, truth, and truth.

If a baby is born disabled (or LGBT), many parents think they must “mourn” the loss of hypothetical “perfect” child rather than accept their child for who they really are.

Don’t mourn for us.

Therefore, when parents say, 

I wish my child did not have autism,

what they’re really saying is, 

I wish the autistic child I have did not exist, and I had a different (non-autistic) child instead.

Read that again. This is what we hear when you mourn over our existence. This is what we hear when you pray for a cure. This is what we know, when you tell us of your fondest hopes and dreams for us: that your greatest wish is that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces.

You didn’t lose a child to autism. You lost a child because the child you waited for never came into existence. That isn’t the fault of the autistic child who does exist, and it shouldn’t be our burden. We need and deserve families who can see us and value us for ourselves, not families whose vision of us is obscured by the ghosts of children who never lived. Grieve if you must, for your own lost dreams. But don’t mourn for us. We are alive. We are real. And we’re here waiting for you.

This is what I think autism societies should be about: not mourning for what never was, but exploration of what is. We need you. We need your help and your understanding. Your world is not very open to us, and we won’t make it without your strong support. Yes, there is tragedy that comes with autism: not because of what we are, but because of the things that happen to us. Be sad about that, if you want to be sad about something. Better than being sad about it, though, get mad about it–and then do something about it. The tragedy is not that we’re here, but that your world has no place for us to be. How can it be otherwise, as long as our own parents are still grieving over having brought us into the world?


And don’t eliminate us from the gene pool. Even if value of life arguments don’t move you, we’re here for reasons.

But if you’re killing an entire person to get rid of a non-communicable health condition, maybe think on why you’d feel the need for that. Is it for the good of the child? Is it for the greater good? How do you define that? Maybe it’s because our current system places greater value on a certain type of person? Maybe it’s because our system punishes you for not practicing eugenics by not providing a social safety net.

Source: Neoliberal Eugenics 1: Selective Abortion – Leslie’s Blog

“Maybe it’s because our system punishes you for not practicing eugenics by not providing a social safety net.”

Oh how we feel that line. Our system forces you into continuous ableist dehumanization of yourself and your kids to access a bad semblance of the right to learn differently, work differently, and live differently. From selective abortion to assisted suicide, the process is conception-to-grave.

What you can’t know unless you have #disability is how all the paperwork chips away at your soul.
Every box you tick, every sentence about your “impairment” and “needs” becomes part of the narrative of your identity…

— Gill Loomes-Quinn (@GillLoomesQuinn) April 9, 2018
The many forms of difference. Adaptive Behavior Assessment (ABAS-3), Adult ADHD Self-report Scale (ASRS-v1.1), and Behavior Rating Inventory Executive Function (BRIEF 2) forms spread across a wooden table
The many forms of difference. Adaptive Behavior Assessment (ABAS-3), Adult ADHD Self-report Scale (ASRS-v1.1), and Behavior Rating Inventory Executive Function (BRIEF 2) forms spread across a wooden table
You have the right to food money
Providing of course you
Don't mind a little
Investigation, humiliation
And if you cross your fingers

Know your rights
These are your rights

-- Know Your Rights

Disability systems rely on artificial economies of scarcity. Programs are underfunded, so caregivers, teachers, social workers, and disabled people themselves are all pushed to project their needs as necessary and virtuous. 

I Shouldn’t Have to Dehumanize My Son to Get Him Support

Eugenics Is Alive and Well and at the Core

Every issue in our news cycle today – gender affirming care, access to abortions, COVID-19 policies (or rather lack thereof), and racist hate crimes – are intimately tied to the history of the eugenics movement. These are intertwined stories.

The system of eugenics and its resulting platform is inherently racist, sexist, transphobic, ableist, etc. at its core. It’s designed to protect systems of white, cis male privilege, while entrenching systems of oppression into place. And it has a long history.

Our news headlines reflect what oppressed people have long known – eugenics is still alive and well. From the rhetoric used in the recent hate crime in Buffalo, to that coming out of the Supreme Court, to the daily statements of the CDC, eugenics is there at the core.

Nicole Lee Schroeder, PhD on Twitter
DisCrit—Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory in Education

The use of pseudoscience to justify differential treatment remains a pervasive force in American culture and society, responsible for creating, or at least reifying, pervasive social stereotypes (Fenton, 1998).

DisCrit—Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory in Education

Common Sense Ableism and Velvet Eugenics

Yet the cultural impulse to assume that people with genetic variations are in a constant state of suffering, and that it blights our lives, is so pervasive that it is even internalized by some with genetic conditions themselves.

Such genetic determinism is a new form of eugenic thinking grounded in what the communications studies scholar James L. Cherney calls “common sense” ableism, a belief system that allows people to simultaneously deny any commitment to distasteful eugenic principles while also holding them up. Common sense ableism permits, even encourages, such injurious attitudes.

The Dark Side of CRISPR – Scientific American via Aspie Neanderthal Master Race – The NOS-Letter

“Common sense ableism” and “velvet eugenics”. Those terms capture so much. “Common sense ableism” is a deadly fixture of COVID responses.

[A]bleism is that most insidious form of rhetoric that has become reified and so widely accepted as common sense that it denies its own rhetoricity—it “goes without saying.” To fully address it we must name its presence, for cultural assumptions accepted uncritically adopt the mantle of “simple truth” and become extremely difficult to rebut. As the neologism “ableism” itself testifies, we need new words to reveal the places it resides and new language to describe how it feeds. Without doing so, ableist ways of thinking and interpreting will operate as the context for making sense of any acts challenging discrimination, which undermines their impact, reduces their symbolic potential, and can even transform them into superficial measures that give the appearance of change yet elide a recalcitrant ableist system.

Ableism dominates the thinking of our society as a whole and it clearly operates as a discourse of power and domination.

Recognizing ableism requires a shift in orientation, a perceptual gestalt framed by the filter of the term “ableism” itself. The same texts that broadcast “Ableism!” to those oriented to perceive it are usually read innocently even when viewed from a liberal, humanitarian, or progressive perspective. Ableism is so pervasive that it is difficult to identify until one begins to interrogate the governing assumptions of well-intentioned society. Within the space allowed by these rhetorical premises, ableism appears natural, necessary, and ultimately moral discrimination required for the normal functioning of civilization. Consider a set of stairs. An ableist culture thinks little of stairs, or even sees them as elegant architectural devices—especially those grand marble masterpieces that elevate buildings of state. But disability rights activists see stairs as a discriminatory apparatus—a “no crips allowed” sign that only those aware of ableism can read—that makes their inevitable presence around government buildings a not-so-subtle statement about who belongs in our most important public spaces. But the device has become so accepted in our culture that the idea of stairs as oppressive technology will strike many as ludicrous. Several years ago when I began to study ableism, a professor—unconvinced of the value of the project—questioned my developing arguments by pointing to a set of steps and exclaiming, “Next you’ll be telling me that those stairs discriminate!” He was right.

The professor’s surprise suggests that commonplace cultural assumptions support themselves because the very arguments available against them seem unwarranted and invalid. Interrogating stairs was such an outrageous idea that a simple reductio ad absurdum argument depicted the critique of ableism as a fallacy. As an ingrained part of the interpretive frameworks sanctioned by culture, ableism gets reinforced by the everyday practice of interpreting and making sense of the world.

The problem is not that deviance is bad, it is that ableism teaches seeing it that way. The problem is not that being abnormal is unnatural, it is that ableism teaches valuing normalcy that way. The problem is not that ability resides in the body, and that a body with different skills is inherently unable to function in society, it is that ableism teaches knowing ability that way. Confronting ableism as visual, ideological, and epistemic problems does not require us to set aside efforts to change the material order of society—such as working to provide access to public spaces—but it does empower disability literature, art, slogans, and protests as crucial to the effort to change what disability means.

If we locate the problem in disability, then the ableist absolves his or her responsibility for discrimination and may not even recognize its presence. If we locate the problem in ableism, then the ableist must question her or his orientation. The critic’s task is to make ableism so apparent and irredeemable that one cannot practice it without incurring social castigation. This requires substantial vigilance, for ableist thinking pervades the culture. For example, as I write this, I am tempted to use medical metaphors to explain the task and script something like “we cannot simply excise the tumor of ableism and heal the culture, for it has metastasized and infiltrated every organ of society.” Yet this metaphor relies on an ableist perspective that motivates with the fear of death and turns to medical solutions to repair a body in decay. Using it, I would endorse and perpetuate ableist rhetoric, just as I would by using deafness as a metaphor for obstinacy (“Marie was deaf to their pleas for bread”) or blindness to convey ignorance (“George turned a blind eye to global warming”). The pervasiveness of these and similar metaphors, like the cultural ubiquity of using images of disabled bodies to inspire pity, suggest the scale of the work ahead, and the ease with which one can resort to using them warns of the need for critical evaluation of one’s own rhetoric. Yet the task can be accomplished. Just as feminists have changed Western culture by naming and promoting recognition of sexism, the glass ceiling, and patriarchy—admittedly a work in progress, yet also one that can celebrate remarkable achievements—we can reform ableist culture by using rhetoric to craft awareness and political action.

The Rhetoric of Ableism | Cherney | Disability Studies Quarterly

Cognitive Diversity Exists for a Reason

persons hands with rainbow colors

Human cognitive diversity exists for a reason; our differences are the genius – and the conscience – of our species.

A Thousand Rivers

Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general.

Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

“Great minds don’t always think alike.” We already understand the value of biodiversity in a rainforest.

To face the challenges of the future, we’ll need the problem-solving abilities of different types of minds working together.

The Best Books on New Books on Autism | Five Books Expert Recommendations

Eugenics isn’t wrong because it’s mean or we don’t have enough information to do it right, though those things are also true, it’s because the entire concept is flawed. Evolution, whether human selected or otherwise, is the process by which an organism adapts to its environment. Let me ask you, viewer: Do you think we should be narrowing our gene pool to select for success in our current socio-economic-political environment? Or, hell, our current actual environment, we already know there’s going to be significant climate change in my lifetime. Isn’t it short-sighted to reduce the gene pool to only that which we can foresee being valuable? Eugenics is based upon the nonsense idea that we should reduce our genetic variation and adaptability, which makes us all incredibly vulnerable to unknown unknowns. Literally the only way humans have survived this far is due to our adaptability as a species.

Explained: Designer DNA– A Disabled Leftist Responds | Leslie’s Blog

ADHD or what I prefer to call Kinetic Cognitive Style (KCS) is another good example. (Nick Walker coined this alternative term.) The name ADHD implies that Kinetics like me have a deficit of attention, which could be the case as seen from a certain perspective. On the other hand, a better, more invariantly consistent perspective is that Kinetics distribute their attention differently. New research seems to point out that KCS was present at least as far back as the days in which humans lived in hunter-gatherer societies. In a sense, being a Kinetic in the days that humans were nomads would have been a great advantage. As hunters they would have noticed any changes in their surroundings more easily, and they would have been more active and ready for the hunt. In modern society it is seen as a disorder, but this again is more of a value judgment than a scientific fact.

Bias: From Normalization to Neurodiversity
adhd text

It doesn’t take long to figure out when observing the natural world that biodiversity creates pathways for organisms to not just survive, but also to thrive within ecosystems.

Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools

If neurodivergence is essentially disablement, why do we keep replicating the gene pool? The less extensive, yet persistent, body of work indicating specialist strengths within neurodiversity, supports the hypothesis that the evolutionary purpose of divergence is ‘specialist thinking skills’ to balance ‘generalist’ thinking skills (as per the ‘spiky profile’). The evolutionary perspective is congruent with the Neurodiversity movement and essential to understanding the occupational talent management perspective that is currently in vogue.

The spiky profile may well emerge as the definitive expression of neurominority, within which there are symptom clusters that we currently call autism, ADHD, dyslexia and DCD.

Neurodiversity at work: a biopsychosocial model and the impact on working adults | British Medical Bulletin | Oxford Academic
green cactuses on yellow wall background

There is consensus regarding some neurodevelopmental conditions being classed as neurominorities, with a ‘spiky profile’ of executive functions difficulties juxtaposed against neurocognitive strengths as a defining characteristic.

Neurodiversity at work: a biopsychosocial model and the impact on working adults

Minority Forms of Human Flourishing Have Been Blocked From View

…the ways we have constructed our ideals of human flourishing unduly exclude neurodivergent modes of flourishing.

…minority forms of human flourishing have been blocked from view. In light of this we suggest that a shift toward what’s been called the neurodiversity paradigm (Walker, 2012) will place the possibility of autistic—and perhaps other forms of—flourishing on the map, making them visible and moreover salient through acknowledging that we are a neurologically diverse species. Beyond challenging dominant conceptions of normal functioning as it is standardly taken to (Chapman, 2019a; Singer, 1999; Walker, 2012), our argument will serve the further purpose of showing that neurodiversity also challenges us to radically broaden our conceptions of the good human life.

…given the diversity of preferences that comes with a neurologically diverse species, we should expect there to be a plurality of ways of flourishing within the human species, many of which diverge from species-standard thriving, and some of which may be rendered invisible due to overly restricted conceptions of human flourishing.

We’ve suggested that autistic individuals encounter testimonial injustice, when they claim to be happy or living good lives, and hermeneutical injustice, seen in the exclusion of neurodivergent modes of flourishing. But it is also vital to consider how these forms of injustice combine and interlock in practice. In day-to-day life, prejudiced stereotypes regarding autistic flourishing and wellbeing culminate in autistic individuals encountering a “catch-22”-like framing, whereby the possibility of being both autistic and living a good life is, to varying extents, unthinkable for many.

Neurodiversity, epistemic injustice, and the good human life – Chapman – – Journal of Social Philosophy – Wiley Online Library

Eugenic World Building and Disability

A crucial challenge for critical disability studies is developing an argument for why disabled people should inhabit our democratic, shared public sphere. The ideological and material separation of citizens into worthy and unworthy based on physiological variations imagined as immutable differences is what I call eugenic world building. It is justified by the idea that social improvement and freedom of choice require eliminating devalued human traits in the interest of reducing human suffering, increasing life quality, and building a more desirable citizenry. In this essay, I outline the logic of inclusive and eugenic world building, define and explain the role of the “normate” in eugenic logic, and provide a critical disability studies reading of the 2005 novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and its 2010 film adaptation. I argue that the ways of being in the world we think of as disabilities must be understood as the natural variations, abilities, and limitations inherent in human embodiment. When this happens, disability will be understood not as a problem to be eliminated but, rather, as a valid way of being in the world that must be accommodated through a sustaining and sustainable environment designed to afford access for a wide range of human variations.

This essay — one in a series of essays I have published since 2011 that take up disability bioethics, access, and inclusion — is about world building, the shared human project of making and using our world together.2 Worlds are spaces, complex material environments made up of people, the material artifacts we make and use, the geological habitat, and other living things ranging from forests to viruses. Our lives occur in these spaces; how we think and what we do shapes them. Some of this environment is given, but we construct much of it through human will, action, and ideology. In other words, the shape of the shared material world we design, build, and use together both expresses and determines who inhabits it now and in the future and how we use it to exercise the duties and privileges of belonging within that world.3 Disability offers a good case study for investigating current and future world building. Modern cultures are now undertaking two contradictory world-building initiatives that are expressed in social, legislative, material, cultural, and attitudinal practices.

Inclusive world building

One world building initiative — which I call inclusive world building — seeks to integrate people with disabilities into the public world by creating an accessible, barrier-free material environment. Inclusive world building considers disability as valued social diversity and supports the civil and human rights-based understanding of disability encoded in legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and 2009 and broader initiatives such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2007), which aim to integrate people with disabilities as full citizens. Inclusive world building is central to my larger case for conserving disability, which I’ll return to at the end of this essay.

Eugenic world building

In contrast to this inclusion initiative is the project I call eugenic world building, which strives to eliminate disability and, along with it, people with disabilities from human communities and future worlds through varying social and material practices that range from seemingly benign to egregiously unethical. Such world building seeks social improvement and freedom of choice by eliminating devalued human traits in the interest of reducing human suffering, increasing life quality, and building a more desirable citizenry. Eugenic world building, in short, is the ideology and practice of controlling who reproduces, how they reproduce, and what they reproduce in the interest of shaping the composition of a particular population. The aim of eugenics is to rid society of the human characteristics that we consider disabilities in the broadest sense and, often by extension, of people with disabilities as well.

Eugenics uses modern technologies to supposedly improve the human race through selective reproduction, genetic manipulation, so-called enhancement, selective abortion, and medical normalization, all of which aim to eliminate disability. Early eugenics gave the Western world an identified, sanctioned population enforced by compulsory sterilization, the human classification of feebleminded, a vast archive of ostensibly inferior hereditary lines, mass institutionalization of people judged as inferior, and the eugenic euthanasia project we call the Holocaust.4 Although today we have a network of egalitarian agreements that arose to guard against enterprises like the Holocaust, communities are now actively shaped by a velvet eugenics enacted through biomedical technologies that select and support some lives according to criteria assumed to be reasonable and incontrovertible.5

World building and the normate figure 

Eugenic world building depends on the imagined cultural figure I have termed the normate (Garland-Thomson, 1997). Both the cultural image and the human version of the normate embody the form, function, behaviors, and appearances that conform to all of the culturally valued traits in the social systems of gender, race, class, sexuality, and ability. The normate is medically and socially hypernormal, displaying the markers of that status and collecting resources and status from this embodied form of social capital. BThe term normate,^ I suggest, Busefully designates the social figure through which people can represent themselves as definitive human beings^ (8).

So narrow, however, is the range of traits that marks normate status that Bonly a minority of actual people^ qualify (8). In the 1960s, sociologist Erving Goffman gave shape to the normate by showing how actual people fell short of its standards. There is, Goffman wryly writes, Bonly one complete unblushing male in America: a young, married, white, urban, northern, hetero- sexual, Protestant father of college education, fully employed, of good complexion, weight and height, and a recent record in sports^ (1963, 128). Goffman’s work in sociology suggests the way bodies seemingly naturally carry social capital in flesh, comportment, behavior, appear- ance, position, and history along with the shame that the image of the normate invokes from those who feel they deviate from this phantom majority figure. The image of the normate that Goffman lays out is, to use Paul K. Longmore’s phrase, Bseverely able-bodied^ (Garland- Thomson 2005, 33).

As rare and unattainable as Bcomplete^ normate status is, such a character nevertheless has great cultural influence. We all recognize this figure; many of us aspire to achieve it; few attain it. Normate status is more aspirational than realized. Actual people seldom fully qualify as normates and, when they do, fall quickly from its fulfillment. Those who for a brief moment in time and space can conform to the normate’s static image assume the authority and wield the power that normate status grants until the human condition inevitably revokes it.

The normate figure serves the work of eugenic world building in several ways. First, it provides the bodily template of the ideal citizen, the imagined definitive person for whom the built environment is designed. Architecture and designers have traditionally focused on aesthetics rather than the actual use of buildings, thus tacitly assuming that the occupants of these spaces and the users of these products are normates (Hamraie 2012). The development of universal design — in response to disability rights legislation and the emergence of feminist architectural criticism — offers an explicit critique of the implied normate user as an exclusionary concept. The more recent emergence of user-based design or what might be called diversity of access architecture and design has attended to how human physiological variation determines the ways in which the built environment is used and, thus, who it admits and who it excludes.

Second, the normate figure underwrites eugenic world building in the broad, influential modern project of medical normalization.6 The figure of the normate hovers behind the newborn citizen as an imagined potentiality. The promise of a newborn is that it will become a normate — that it will carry out an expected future enabled by normate embodiment. The largely unquestioned concept of beginning life as a “healthy baby^ anchors the projected normate future understood as a right of citizenship. Much of the work of medical reproductive technology is to ensure this normate potentiality to all members at birth by controlling the development of human variation during gestation. Undervalued or stigmatized human variations understood broadly as disabilities or disadvantages are identified and marked for eugenic elimination in current reproductive management protocols aimed at producing newborns expected to carry out a normate future.7 What is suppressed in the fictional future of the normate newborn is the inherent contingency of human embodiment as it moves through time and space in the journey we call life.

Normate and disabled strangeness: a critical disability studies reading 

At the heart of Ishiguro’s novel is a subtle and complicated exploration of our psycho-emotional response to mortality, both our own and that of our fellow humans. The aspect of mortality Never Let Me Go focuses on is how we — both as individuals and through social orders — address the inevitable transformations of human bodies as they move through time, space, and the material world in the course of our individual life trajectories. In this sense, then, the novel is about how we collectively respond to the human ways of being, perceiving, functioning, and responding that we call disabilities.

Inhabiting a shared world 

The variant forms and functions we count as disabilities and abilities do not predict or determine, in any coherent or meaningful way, quality of life, human value, happiness, merit, achievement, virtue, contribution, or potential — in short, any of the criteria for evaluating a human life. So the question of whether we want to be disabled or have disabled people in the world is the wrong question. The right question is how can the disabled people in our shared world now and in future worlds inhabit those worlds effectively.

The case for conserving disability 

That we should not do something about disability is why I make the case for conserving disability. Who we include and how we collectively constitute and support human communities are perhaps the most crucial contemporary ethical concerns. My point is that we should conserve the human variations we think of as disabilities because they are essential, inevitable aspects of human being and because these lived experiences provide individuals and human communities with multiple opportunities for expression, creativity, resourcefulness, relationships, and flourishing. The persistent forms of human biodiversity we consider disabilities witness sturdiness more than fragility, interdependence more than isolation. To live a nondisabled life does not secure these positive qualities, nor does living life as disabled preclude such beneficent prospects. In other words, it is not disability status or experience that determines quality of life, opportunity, happiness, or contribution to community. We are all made from flesh, blood, bone; this enfleshment sets the limits and possibilities of our existence. This shared humanity invites us to recognize what we gain from disability and what we lose when we exclude it from our shared world (Garland-Thomson 2015a).

A conservationist approach toward human embodied existence recognizes and honors that materiality by providing a sustaining environment that supports all human embodied flourishing (Turner 2006; Garland-Thomson 2011, 2015b). To conserve is to ameliorate more than eradicate, to sustain more than transform, to accommodate more than eliminate. Conserving disability in this way affirms human embodied variation and distinctiveness, not because it is the given, but because it is the good. Disability conservation, then, promotes and protects human biodiversity (Garland- Thomson 2015a). Conserving disability counters what disability studies scholar Alison Kafer calls our Bgrim imagined futures^ (2013, 2). Revealing the emptiness of normate status counters the liberal eugenics of enhancement, improvement, and the range of technological interventions to erase disability from the human condition. Conserving disability contributes to imagining what Nancy Mairs calls a Bhabitable world: a world that wants me in it^ (Mairs 1996, 63).

Eugenic World Building and Disability: The Strange World of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go | SpringerLink

Don’t Edit Me Out

Nearly 1 out of every 5 people in this country has a disability. What would it mean for society to render such a large group of people “unfit” for the human germline? Stories about genetic editing typically focus on “progress” and “remediation,” but they often ignore the voice of one key group: the people whose genes would be edited.

While non-disabled people fear a prenatal diagnosis of disability, disabled people think of the possibilities. How rich would our society be if we all did this? What if that child with osteogenesis imperfecta becomes a world-changing architect because they think differently about how the world is set up due to their disability?

Now think about the message that society’s fear of the deviant — that boogeyman of imperfection — says to disabled people: “We don’t want you here. We’re actively working to make sure that people like you don’t exist because we think we know what’s best for you.” This is ableism. It’s denying us our personhood and our right to exist because we don’t fit society’s ideals.

Please don’t edit me out

I would like to never hear about The Bell Curve ever again.

Prejudiced against all insanity
Values high IQ like it's gospel
Think they've got the right to hate
Those who cannot contemplate
Perceptions of existence
That are default

Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Intellectual disability
Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Intellectual disability
Insecurities fuel segregation
Defining through a medical lens
Sneering at the conditions
Loathes neurodiversity
We are the evolution
Of sanity

Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Intellectual disability
Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Sanist does not respect
Intellectual non disability

--Sanist by Tommy Concrete

Nothing About Us Without Us

A motto of the self-advocacy movement is “Nothing About Us, Without Us!”. Lots of people talk about us without letting us talk. We should always be part of the conversation, and be in charge of our lives.


Strong content warning: Holocaust, genocide, ableism, eugenics, euthanasia

My kind were identified
By twisted scientists
Separate by neurology
Focused ideology
The ones of us most profound
Sadly were oven bound
It seems I would have been
A super soldier unseen

Nothing about us
Without us any more
Do not rewrite history
On my account
Nothing about us
Without us any more
Do not rewrite history
On my account
I am not satisfied
To be marginalised
By ableist dictators
Robots patronising me
My condition was revealed
By a creator I oppose
Yet the source of my current chaos
Are my allies allegedly

Nothing about us
Without us any more
Do not rewrite history
On my account
Nothing about us
Without us any more
Do not rewrite history
On my account

--Nothing About Us Without Us by Tommy Concrete

More than two hundred thousand disabled children and adults were murdered during the official phases of the child euthanasia and T-4 programs, and thousands more were killed in acts of “wild euthanasia” by doctors and nurses on their own initiative. Obviously, the notion of transporting hundreds of corpses on roads that had to be kept clear for military convoys was impractical. As clinics, hospitals, and schools throughout the Reich dedicated their resources to the programs, crematoria were built next to these institutions, with conveyor belts to transport the bodies from the Kinderfachabteilungen to the ovens. In some institutions, improvised furnaces on wheels were employed to dispose of the corpses.

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (p. 135)

/Strong Content Warning

I first heard the expression “Nothing About Us Without Us” in South Africa in 1993. Michael Masutha and William Rowland, two leaders ofDisabled People South Africa, separately invoked the slo- gan, which they had heard used by someone from Eastern Europe at an international disability rights conference. The slogan’s power derives from its location of the source of many types of (disability) oppression and its simultaneous opposition to such oppression in the context of control and voice.

“Nothing About Us Without Us” resonates with the philosophy and history of the disability rights movement (DRM), a movement that has embarked on a belated mission parallel to other liberation movements. As Ed Roberts, one of the leading figures of the international DRM, has said, “If we have learned one thing from the civil rights movement in the U.S., it’s that when others speak for you, you lose” (Driedger 1989:28). In this sense, “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and “Power to the People” can be recognized as precedents for “Nothing About Us With- out Us.” The DRM’s demand for control is the essential theme that runs through all its work, regardless of political-economic or cultural differences. Control has universal appeal for DRM activists because the needs of people with disabilities and the potential for meeting these needs are everywhere conditioned by a dependency born of powerless- ness, poverty, degradation, and institutionalization. This dependency, saturated with paternalism, begins with the onset of disability and con- tinues until death. The condition of dependency is presently typical for hundreds of millions of people throughout the world.

NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US: Disability Oppression and Empowerment

We should always be part of the conversation.

Forced Sterilizations: Managing Reproduction Is the Linchpin of Eugenics

Managing reproduction was the linchpin of eugenics.

Superior: The Return of Race Science

This most recent use of forced or coerced sterilization is part of a long legacy of reproductive violence in policies and practices that was explicitly directed at Black and Indigenous Women and others of Color who can become pregnant. In California between 1997–2013, almost 1,400 women, again mainly Black and Latinx, were forcefully sterilized in prisons (McKay, 2020). Through the 1960s and 1970s, it is estimated that up to 25% of all Indigenous girls and women between the ages of 15–44 were sterilized, many coerced or without their knowledge (Lawrence, 2000). From the 1930s to the 1970s, one-third of Puerto Rican women were sterilized (Andrews, 2017). Latinx women were also targeted for sterilizations in Los Angeles during the 1960s and 1970s (ibid). Forced sterilization rates rose along with desegregation when Black women became specific targets. From 1937 to 1966, large numbers of Black women were forcibly sterilized in North Carolina, with dramatic increases coinciding with desegregation orders (Minna Stern, 2020). Forced sterilizations became so common that Fannie Lou Hamer, who had been forcibly sterilized herself, publicly shared her own experiences with and fought against what she coined the Mississippi appendectomy (Hamer, 1964). Connecting the emergence of forced hysterectomies at ICE facilities with a longer historical context of targeting Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color, and others who can become pregnant—many who were also disabled—for state violence in the form of forced and coerced sterilizations reveals the long-standing reverberations of eugenic-based violence.

DisCrit Expanded: Reverberations, Ruptures, and Inquiries

DisCrit was created to address the connections between racism and ableism, and nowhere are these connections clearer than in eugenicist projects such as forced sterilizations. Rooted in the eugenicist belief that society can wipe out those of lesser intelligence, learning, and behavior by cutting out the possibility of reproducing, these sterilizations are not simply an egregious violation of bodies through state violence, they are also a human rights abuse, stealing babies from their mothers and cutting off futures.

Roberts’ text clearly lays out how eugenicist thinking relies upon ableism and racism, grounded in the belief that race is located in genetics and that genetics prescribed future capabilities.

DisCrit Expanded: Reverberations, Ruptures, and Inquiries

We Are in an Era of Unvarnished Eugenics

We live in an era of unvarnished eugenics, and neurodiversity is our most powerful response to it.

We will not trade disabled deaths for abled life. We will not allow disabled people to be disposable or the necessary collateral damage for the status quo. We will not look away from the mass illness and death that surrounds us or from a state machine that is more committed to churning out profit and privileged comfort with eugenic abandonment.

We know the state has failed us. We are currently witnessing the pandemic state-sanctioned violence of murder, eugenics, abuse and bone-chilling neglect in the face of mass suffering, illness and death. We are the richest nation in the world and we continue to choose greed and comfort over people and life. The state is driving the knife of suffering deeper into the gut of those already collapsed on the ground. The cruelty is sweeping and unapologetic.

You Are Not Entitled To Our Deaths: COVID, Abled Supremacy & Interdependence

What do we call the feeling of witnessing our most powerful institutions tacitly cooperate to maintain eugenics while outwardly claiming just the opposite?

Crip News v.40 – by Kevin Gotkin – Crip News
Bodies ride the waves
Somebody's gonna have to pay
Bodies, living on the shore in their sandcastles
Bodies, sea is getting rough and the walls rattle
Bodies, come with the tide
Nowhere left to hide

A thousand thoughts ride the waves
Can't save nobody, I'm too late
Bodies, no one cares about the coming last battle
Bodies, wavеs crashing down and the ocean swallows
Whеre you gonna hide the bodies?
On the shore living in sandcastles
No one cares about the coming last battle
Sea is getting rough and the walls rattle
Waves crashing down and the ocean swallows

--Bodies by Rabbit Junk

Vulnerable” has become a key word in the pandemic lexicon, but it is one that has often done more harm than good. It implies that the mass deaths of disabled and old people were inevitable, and conveniently exonerates the state from responsibility.

During Covid, to be ‘vulnerable’ is to be told your life doesn’t matter | Frances Ryan | The Guardian

I turn to a discussion of eugenics because this way of thinking helped to shape our understanding of reproduction and permeates the promotion of contemporary policies that regulate Black women’s childbearing. Racist ideology, in turn, provided fertile soil for eugenic theories to take root and flourish. It bears remembering that in our parents’ lifetime states across the country forcibly sterilized thousands of citizens thought to be genetically inferior. America’s recent eugenic past should serve as a warning of the dangerous potential inherent in the notion that social problems are caused by reproduction and can be cured by population control.

Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty

“I saw anti-Semitism. I was really alienated in American society. I was a person that felt that racism and anti-Semitism were predominant, and that the United States could easily become vicious, racist, and go back to its racist history when push came to shove, if people were threatened enough.” The past, he reminds me, is always capable of repeating itself.

It was around this time, as he and Hurt uncovered the network, that Mehler had his dream. “I felt like I was desperately trying to prevent this from happening again. . . . I thought that we were headed for more genocide,” he says. The parallels between this far-right network of pseudoscientists and intellectuals and the rapid, devastating way in which eugenics research had been translated in Nazi Germany loomed large in Mehler’s mind, terrifying him with the possibility that the brutal atrocities of the past could happen once more, that the ideological heart behind them was still beating.

Superior: The Return of Race Science

In 2020, along with the eugenicist projects of forced sterilizations, we experienced a global pandemic whose devastating effects were exacerbated by a governmental response that sacrificed disabled people, old people, incarcerated people, low-income people, many who were multiply marginalized Black people, Indigenous people, and other People of Color. In 2020, we also experienced an onslaught of extrajudicial murders by police and other white vigilantes against Black people—another eugenicist project with a history of targeting multiply marginalized Black people, Indigenous people, and other People of Color. Mentally ill and/or disabled Black men (Walter Wallace Jr., Daniel Prude, Elijah McClain, Miciah Lee, LaQuan McDonald), Black women (Michelle Cusseaux, Natasha McKenna, Tanisha Anderson, Deborah Danner), Black queer, trans and nonbinary people (Kawaski Trawick, Layleen Xtravaganza Cubilette-Polanco, Tony McDade), Indigenous people (Jeanetta Riley, Benjamin Whiteshield, Loreal Tsingine, Paul Castaway), and other People of Color (Magdiel Sanchez, Christopher Torres, Melissa Ventura, Anthony Nuñez, Freddy Centeno, Daniel Pham, Jazmyne Ha Eng) who have frequently been the victims of police violence. Ultimately, both the pandemic response and the extrajudicial murders are eugenicist projects, illustrating that this ideology continues to animate state-sponsored violence, segregation, and eradication of multiply marginalized people.

DisCrit Expanded: Reverberations, Ruptures, and Inquiries

Everyone needs to get aboard the solidarity against ableism train, yesterday.

We are in an era of unvarnished eugenics.

Gwen Snyder on Twitter